The deadlift holds its own when it comes to intense movements. It is seen as the “grandfather” of exercises because of its full body involvement and taxation on the central nervous system. So, to even think about making the deadlift more intense would be considered “insane”.
The snatch-grip deadlift is seen by many in the fitness world as the “deadlift from hell”. The snatch grip is a much wider grip than a conventional deadlift grip. Hands are set very wide on the barbell during set up, which in return requires you to get lower to the ground. This of course develops a much longer (at least it feels that way) range of motion or path to travel when standing up with the load.
The dynamics of the deadlift that has touted it as supreme involves the strength initiative (which means pulling a very heavy weight for yourself with few reps), hinge work (bending at the hips), and all out full body involvement. This is all intensified with a snatch-grip.
With a snatch-grip, the hips are involved much more (more hinge-work), the weight you pull does not need to be as high because the range of motion is greater, thus increasing the effort output involved by the entire body. Deadlifts have always worked grip strength as well. A snatch-grip puts the hands in a much weaker state than a conventional deadlift hook grip or standard overhand grip. By being put in a weakened state, grip strength is improved.
The posterior chain is the key group of muscles involved with the deadlift. This group involves the upper back, lower back, glutes, hamstrings, and calves. With the increased depth and range of motion, these muscles are engaged much more intensely.
Snatch-grip deadlifts need to be performed with caution. They are more taxing on the knees and lower back in comparison to a regular deadlift. So, if you are nursing some knee or back issues, it is suggested you refrain from doing this variation of deadlift.
If you are up to the challenge and looking at giving snatch-grip deadlifts a shot, start off moderately light before working your way up. A good start would be 60-70% of you 1MR (max rep). Even with that light amount of weight try to stay within 2-5 reps. This will allow you to get comfortable and make any alterations with your body to get in a good position to safely perform this hellish exercise.